Buffs' senior fires 72 to win home title.
By BRETT MARSHALL
There have been enough tournaments over the past several seasons where Abbi Shaddix of Garden City and Taelyn Entriken of Maize have gone head-to-head as two of the best golfers in Class 6A.
Thursday was another one of those opportunities for the two seniors to showcase their skills at Buffalo Dunes Golf Course, during the Garden City Invitational.
This time, Shaddix made the most of the "home course" advantage, firing an even-par 72 to easily outdistance Entriken, who struggled early before finishing with an 80.
It was the third straight year for Shaddix to capture medalist honors in the Lady Buffs' home event.
The eight-shot victory by Shaddix wasn't enough, however, for the Lady Buffs to overcome the depth of Entriken and her Lady Eagles in the team chase. Maize easily took top honors with a 348 while the Lady Buffs were a distant second at 374. Goodland was a close third at 378, the only other team to crack 400.
The week before at Mariah Hills, Shaddix had struggled to an 81 while the Lady Buffs shot a 377 to Maize's 358 and Entriken took medalist honors with a 75.
With a mostly underclassmen group of varsity players, GCHS coach Melinda Base's squad couldn't counter Maize's steady play as Lindsay Bradstreet was the only other GCHS player to break 100 with a 98. Freshman Danielle Gasper was next with 100, Megan Steward followed at 104, Maddie Gerber finished with a 108 and Hannah Leiker shot a 144.
"I know we can compete with Maize, but they have a solid team, and we're still a young team that is growing," Base said. "It was a fabulous round for Abbi. She knows the course so well, and she's just comfortable here. It shows how well she can play when she's comfortable."
Base said she was pleased with her other golfers, four of whom broke 50 on one of the two nines.
"That's the first sign of progress, and while I don't know if we can beat Maize, I think we can close the gap," Base said.
Maize countered with an 85 by Ashley Reiswig, a 90 by Brooke Johanson and a 93 by Lauren Copp. The Lady Eagles had defeated the Lady Buffs a week earlier at the Dodge City Invitational by nearly the same margin.
But at least for Thursday at the Dunes, which will be the host site for the Oct. 21 Class 6A state girls tournament, it was Shaddix who shined the brightest.
And the victory felt good for Shaddix, who has now fired rounds of 71-78-72 in the last three tournaments played at her home course.
"I played pretty good, except one bad hole," Shaddix said.
That came on the short, par-4, second where she pushed her drive into the trees and deep rough, only to not find it and being forced to take a lost ball 2-shot penalty. That resulted in a double-bogey.
"Other than that, I played par golf," Shaddix said. "I was mad at that, but I told myself I could get it back."
She responded three holes later by rifling a hybrid from 185 yards out to within 15 feet of the flag on the par-5 fifth, and then drained the eagle putt.
"I just told myself to make it, and I hit a solid putt there," Shaddix said.
She finished her outgoing nine with a bogey on the par-3 eighth, but responded with a 3-foot birdie putt on the ninth to make the turn in even-par 36. Bogeys at the 11th and 12th holes put her at 2-over, but she bounced back once again with a 2-putt birdie on the par-5 16th and then made a downhill, breaking 15-footer for birdie on the par-3 17th to get back to even par. She closed out her round with a two-putt par on the 18th.
"I felt a little pressure, especially knowing that state's going to be here," Shaddix said. "My putting still could be better, and I can improve the driver, but the rest of my game I'm happy with and like where it's at."
Of the area teams competing, Syracuse's two-time defending Class 3-2-1A state champions were sixth at 426. The Lady Bulldogs were led by senior Kiah Rash, whose 86 enabled her to finish fourth in the medalist chase. Shaddix, the two Maize players and Rash were the lone players in the 58-player varsity field to break 90.
"I thought she really came back and played well on her second nine," Syracuse coach Rick Mathias said of Rash, last year's state individual runner-up. "We've just got to get the rest of the team working toward the goal of playing well later in the season. We're not there by any stretch, and the girls know it."
Lakin was seventh with a 437, Ulysses ninth at 473 and Hugoton 11th at 510.
Garden City will travel to Liberal on Thursday for its next Western Athletic Conference meet at Willow Tree Golf Course.
Results are in Scoreboard, Page B2.